Sheep Encounters

Sheepish E - Elizabeth HarperNormally, which really translates into always … I carry a camera of some sort. When I’m out on a run, I take my iPhone because I can listen to music, make a call if necessary, (As in I’m lost somewhere in England … help!) and most importantly take a picture when a perfect opportunity presents itself.

Fuji -Elizabeth Harper

When on a hike or just traveling around, I carry my little Fuji Finepix Z100, a great little point and shoot I bought after I got here and found my larger camera to big to haul up and down the coast path.

Rock Climbing Cornwall

When I need more power and picture quality as in when I’m shooting a wedding or doing some portrait work I use one of my Nikon D200’s.

Dancing - Elizabeth Harper

A couple of days ago, I went out without my camera and I missed a perfect photo opportunity while in the homeward stretch of my run. I was running down the very narrow lane in the picture below while listening to music on my iPod, not my iPhone when all of a sudden there were 20 or 30 sheep racing down the lane in my direction. Notice how narrow the lane is in the picture below. Lanes are roads wide enough for one car or one woman, or twenty or thirty sheep, but not all at the same time.

Reaching - Elizabeth Harper

If you notice all the green on the hedges of the sides of the lane … you should know that there is a sticky (ouch!) plant called a nettle which lives in the hedges that look deceptively beautiful.

Nettles

If you touch it even slightly, it causes a lingering stinging sensation that will still be sore the next day. It feels a bit like a burn. Notice the spiky things sticking up on the under side … avoid those spikes!

Toothy Sheep

We saw each other about the same time … at least the first few sheep noticed me and slammed to a halt causing the sheep running behind them to bump in to the ones in front. For half a second we just eyeballed each other uncertain how to respond. I was thinking, “ Why didn’t I bring my camera?” I’m not sure what the sheep were thinking.

E Hedge

All of sudden a white dog looking a bit like a wolf comes tearing down the lane behind sheep heading straight up the side of the lane where I’m standing. The sheep begin to run in my direction and as they race my way, I fling myself into the hedge not even remembering the stinging nettles in an effort not to be run over by the wooly mass coming towards me.

Sheep

The white dog shoots past me and runs around to the front of the escaping sheep and goes down on his front paws into a position that the sheep understand as turn around, ” Boys … we are going the wrong way! ”  In one quick motion the sheep turn and run back up the lane, through the gate, and into the field where the farmer stands waiting.

Seeing the sheep are safe, I pull myself out of the hedge and go off in search of some dock leaves to rub on my nettle stings to reduce the ouchy side effect of my sheep encounter.

Dock Leaves

Dock leaves, nettle stings, sheep encounters, every day is a new adventure … does it get any better than this?

 

Reposted from original GOTJ

Washed Away

Wellies - Washed Away

The constant rain over the last few days has made it easy for me to spend what seems like an endless amount of time staring into the screen of my computer.

I’ve been editing the 3000 plus images I’ve snapped on our adventures around the southwest of England over the last eight weeks sorting though the best ones to share in this space. In each one I’m struck by the lush green that provides a backdrop to this blooming paradise.

Rain is an absolute requirement for the never-ending sea of green. The breath stopping beauty depends on the watery bounty that falls sometimes for days. It’s an unending form of nourishment from the blue grey clouds that frequently dot the Cornish skies.

In the rare moments lately when the clouds hold back and we have a bit of weather relief, we pull on our wellies and tromp about the countryside like a pair of nine-year old boys stepping deep into the mud of the moor. Decorating the waterproof legs of my rubber boots with mud spatters like some sort of earthy Jackson Pollock, I love the freedom that comes with knowing that it’s just a bit of mud and that the next deep puddle I wade through will provide me with a clean canvas and a chance to do it all again.

I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be if all the mistakes we’ve made in our lives could be washed away like that. What if all the errors in judgement, thoughtless acts or careless words could be washed from our memories, slipping away with a splash or two of water from the next waiting stream. Just think how healing that might be.

I am inclined to wonder that if by freeing ourselves from the muck of our memories we might lose some of the fertile ground that spiritual and psychological growth needs to continue to flourish.

The lessons of life cling to us instead like dried mud on our boots sometimes flaking off a bit at a time, sometimes requiring a good scrubbing, but in no way easily dismissed.

Perhaps that is as it should be.

Reposted from original GOTJ

The Gift You Keep

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper

Reposted from original GOTJ

Six months ago, if someone had said, ‘ Elizabeth, 2007 is going to end a little differently than you’ve planned, but the new year will bring you an unexpected gift,’ my response might have been something along the lines of … right!  Over the last few years I’d had about all the unexpected gifts I could handle and frankly I don’t do very well when people give me things.

A gift can be a burden when it’s not something you want. I am talking about those kind of gifts that still have a price tag attached to them. You know what I mean … price tags like guilt, as in ‘Don’t you like it?’  Or those that may have a longer shelf life such as, ‘How come you never wear, use, or eat the things I buy for you?’

And because I don’t like to have things sitting around taking up space, I will almost always return something not right for me. Returning a gift is usually considered the worst offense. So given some of my experiences with people and gift giving why wouldn’t I think, ‘Gifts from the universe … no thanks, I’ll get it myself if I want it.’

After all my needs were pretty simple. I had the love and support of family and friends. My marketing position with a hospice organization was providing enough to fund the more creative life I envisioned as a photographer and I was in many ways building a life that was exactly what I thought I wanted.

Things weren’t perfect in every way, but who really expects perfection. With the exception of a less than desirable love life, things were pretty good. Nothing seemed unmanageable and for once it seemed as if I was driving the bus myself instead of feeling like a backseat driver in my own life.

Then on an important night to be out, I stayed in.

Home alone on New Years Eve, I decided to take a look at men on a UK dating site. What could it hurt to have a look? I’m in America and they’re way across the ocean. No problem there, right?  Plenty of time to correspond, get to know one another, take your time, move slowly, hey … developing a long distance relationship could be sort of like having a pen pal. No pressure I thought, in fact it might work perfectly for me because I was usually too busy to sleep, much less date .

And besides, I was absolutely not interested in serious relationship then.

Uh right … I find that words like that spoken out loud or not, seem to work in a way similar to a modern-day love spell. As soon as someone says, ‘I’m happy just dating,’ the man or woman of their dreams appears and dramatically changes the plan they envisioned for their future.

I hear stories like that from time the time, don’t you?  Now it seems to have happened to me. Just when I wasn’t expecting it, this perfect gift dropped into my inbox and into my life.

I think I’ll be keeping this one.